Haywood County, N.C.
Asheville is the big draw in this lovely region of North Carolina, but Haywood County, 20 miles to the west, is dotted with charming mountain towns like Waynesville and Maggie Valley, as well as sweeping landscapes and coveted cooler summer temps. Great Smoky Mountain National Park makes the area a haven for hiking, fishing, biking, golfing, whitewater rafting and more. You can rent cabins or camp in the park, or stay at one of the area’s cushier golf resorts or, for a luxurious mountaintop resort, try the Swag. There’s also Cataloochee Ranch in Maggie Valley: Hearty breakfasts and dinners are included, and they offer horseback-riding and bird-watching tours.
Kiawah Island, S.C.
It would be hard to find a nicer beach break than Kiawah Island, a barrier island just under 30 miles from downtown Charleston, which is known for its 10 miles of dog-friendly beaches and maritime forest. Pick your spot and soak up the sun, play one of the island’s award-winning golf courses, or hop into a kayak and paddle the island’s saltwater creeks, keeping an eye out for dolphins. Ornithologists flock here for the birds; more than 200 species call the island home, from the smallest hummingbirds to bald eagles. But it's all about relaxation on Kiawah: Give in to island time and simply let go, whether at a vacation rental home or in the lap of luxury at the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort.
Art, sports, outdoor fun, dog friendliness and more combine to make this town a fun choice for a summer getaway. Stop into the Knoxville Museum of Art to check out Richard Jolley’s “Cycle of Life,” one of the largest glass-and-steel works of art in the world; visit the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame; or tour Knoxville’s craft distillery, Knox Whiskey Works. You can hop on a bike and explore the city’s 65 miles of greenways or walk the trails of the 300-acre Ijams Nature Center. Try to catch a show at the gorgeous, historic Tennessee Theatre, or on weekdays hear some bluegrass, blues, folk or funk music at the "WDVX Blue Plate Special," a live performance radio show. Stay downtown, where the many options include the pet-friendly Hilton Knoxville and, on the boutique side, the Oliver Hotel.